Wasps use Europe to entice their players

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The Independent Online
Wasps 52 West Hartlepool 12

Whoever wins the day, the clubs or Cliff Brittle, one thing is looking more certain this morning, Wasps will be joining the European rugby community next season. Both camps, the English Professional Rugby Union Clubs and the RFU have plans to broaden the competitive base at club level come what may.

Being in Europe will also prove attractive to players. Wasps' own are currently looking over contracts (there are suggestions that their captain Lawrence Dallaglio has already signed his) but there are also rumours that Wasps are close to making some big-name signings. They still need the new hard core of the present side to commit themselves, but the signs are that the likes of Andy Gomarsall, Nick Greenstock, Laurence Scrase and Peter Scrivener are prepared to pledge themselves to Wasps.

Dallaglio feels that success will go to those clubs with a squad of full- time professionals and the law undergraduate announced his intention to do just that. "It's easier for me," he said, "I'm already in the England team." As to whether the youngsters go fulltime, that depends on the outcome of the Clubs v RFU conflict.

Dallaglio is a member of the England players' mediating team and he said: "Guys have to make career decisions, but they can't until clubs are able to sort out their revenue lines."

But as part-timers they have not done too badly hauling Wasps out of the rubble of the early season upheavals when Rob Andrew took other key players away with him to the North East to the borders of Europe.

West Hartlepool, in contrast, arrived on a hiding to nothing. Wasps lost a fistful of players to Newcastle but Andrew stripped the First Division's basement club of eight. When they trooped out at sunny Sudbury the relegated club were fielding four Courage League debutants and were never remotely in the game.

Greenstock's try after 30 seconds and eight pairs of hands promised an avalanche, but it didn't quite pan out like that. Wasps had reckoned without Derrick Patterson. West's Scotland international scrum-half harried and harassed, prodded and probed and was the inspiration behind West's occasional flurries of resistance.

Wasps scored eight tries and it could have been a lot more. The misery of it is that this was a rearranged match after the original was abandoned in November when a spectator suffered a heart attack.

Wasps: Tries Greenstock, Roiser 2, Gomarsall, Gregory 2, Molloy, Greenwood; Conversions Gregory 6. West Hartlepool: Tries M Thompson, Patterson; Conversion Oliphant.

Wasps: J Ufton; L Scrase, N Greenstock, A James, S Roiser; G Gregory, A Gomarsall (M Skinner, 70); D Molloy, D Macer, W Green, M Greenwood, R Kinsey, M White, L Dallaglio (capt), P Scrivener (A Orugboh, 66).

West Hartlepool: K Oliphant; M Wood, M Thompson, C Lee, R Thompson; T Knowles (D Tighe, 80), D Patterson (capt); P Lancaster, T Herbert, P Whitelock, C Murphy, K Westgarth, G Wappett, T Boyd, P Evans.

Referee: C Harrison (Leighton Buzzard).

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